Southwest Airlines ups cleaning procedures amid coronavirus fears

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – While spring break is just around the corner, some travelers are concerned about the spread of the coronavirus.

Officials with Southwest Airlines say it is doing more to make sure passengers arrive at their destinations safely and healthy.

The airline says crews usually spend between six and seven hours cleaning each aircraft every night, but they are now enhancing the cleaning procedures.

“Typically, we use an EPA approved hospital-grade disinfectant in the lavatories and an interior cleaner in the cabin. Now, we are expanding the use of the hospital-grade disinfectant throughout the aircraft, and it will be used in the cabin, on elements in the flight deck, and in the lavatory. This goes beyond the standard CDC guidelines,” Southwest SVP and Chief Marketing Officer Ryan Green said in a letter to customers.

Also, Southwest says they equip each aircraft with a High Efficiency Particulate Air filter, which filters out recirculated air onboard each plane to remove airborne particles.

“Rest assured, we are monitoring this developing situation closely, staying in regular contact with federal agencies, health organizations, and other experts. We’ve developed a host of resources to keep you informed and updated along the way, including our Travel Advisory on and our Company blog, and we’ll continue to post updates as this situation evolves,” the letter stated.

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As a result of traveler fears, airlines have been forced to cancel more flights.

Southwest has only a small number of international flights, and none to China — so its cuts would highlight the extent of the slump in domestic travel.

United Airlines on Wednesday announced a 20% cut in overseas flights, and a 10% reduction in domestic flights. JetBlue announced a 5% cut. Several airlines are also waiving fees for some passengers who wish to change their travel plans.

Doug Parker of American Airlines, the world’s largest airline, said demand has dropped so much for some routes that “it doesn’t make sense for us to fly the airplane there and back and burn the fuel because there’s just not enough people.”

Alaska Airlines said it has strengthened its procedures for cleaning the interior of its aircraft, and is receiving counsel from two infectious disease experts.

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